WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, participated in a full committee hearing on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) 2024 budget.
During the hearing, Ranking Member Capito questioned FWS Director Martha Williams about needed actions to prevent ongoing delays of key West Virginia projects, the harmful impacts of recent rules and regulations, and how to improve the agency’s staffing issues.
ON SOLUTIONS TO FWS DELAYS IN CAPITO’S RESTART ACT: “As I mentioned in my opening statement, West Virginia state agencies are now funding multiple folks in the Service’s Elkins field office to obtain the Section 7 consultations. Two weeks ago I introduced the RESTART Act with members of this committee. The bill includes a program that would allow for states to assume the Section 7 responsibility of the Service. There's precedent for states assuming a federal agency's responsibility under other environmental laws like NEPA. So, my assumption would be [it’d] more efficient for states rather than using their funds to pay for federal staff to do the same work indirectly, to do it more directly through the state and would help resolve the apparent staffing issue that is facing the Service.”
PREVENTING UNNECESSARY DELAYS DUE TO UPLISTING OF NORTHERN LONG-EARED BAT:
RANKING MEMBER CAPITO:
“You and I talked repeatedly about my concern with the uplisting of the Northern Long Eared Bat from threatened to endangered, and I do appreciate that the Service delayed the effective date of this listing to further consult with stakeholders on the transition. According to your own agency, bat populations are declining due to white nose syndrome. Has the Service explored the possibility of allowing 4(d) rules for endangered species that are listed due to effects unrelated to infrastructure development, such as white nose syndrome?”
FWS DIRECTOR MARTHA WILLIAMS:
“Thank you, Senator Capito for that question. And yes, it's something we certainly would consider…We have been working with our partners to get those assurances in place and allow both protection for the bat and for projects to move forward.”
Click HERE to watch Round 1 of Ranking Member Capito’s questions.
Click HERE to watch Round 2 of Ranking Member Capito’s questions.
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